Entrepreneurism is alive and well in Oregon, as witnessed at the recent Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) Angel Oregon 2014 Showcase.
New companies at various stages were given 15 minutes each to present their profiles to an audience of more than 600 people that included potential investors. The winner of the day took home $250,000 of expansion funding. Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute was a sponsor, confirming our ongoing support of entrepreneurs in Oregon.
The diversity represented at the event was amazing. From food to nurse networks; from technology to media; the wide scope of industries in growth mode was surprising and encouraging. It certainly confirmed what I have learned about entrepreneurism in Oregon—it is growing in a range of sectors. That is good business and is stimulating our economy.
Angel Oregon has an impressive track record with start-up companies. Between 2005 and 2013, they have invested nearly $300 million in the state’s growing start- up network. This has led to the creation of at least 826 new jobs.
Sometimes I am not certain if those not directly involved with new companies understand how critical start-ups are to our economy. I also don’t think it is generally known how difficult it is to establish a company in today’s economic climate. Money is still tight. In the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator, I see first hand how much money our bioscience start-ups must raise—and how they must continue raising it for many years in order to bring their products and therapies to market.
Start-ups are the foundation of our economy and offer the best future for us all—in our quality of life as well as our financial well-being. They create the most jobs; they are the next “big thing” that takes us along the path to innovation.
I see the OBI companies support each other and note that having physical space close to one another is a significant advantage. Not only does it minimize costs, it also accelerates learning. Several of the companies in OBI are working together on funding requests that will, hopefully, be successful. More are in the works.
The journey from research scientist to entrepreneur is not easy. My goal for 2014 is to make that evolution smoother for growing numbers of young bio-companies.
To do this, OBI must continue to expand both its physical infrastructure, to allow more companies the benefits of reasonably priced laboratory and office space, as well as our mentoring and other service offerings. With a start-up waiting list of more than 10 companies needing what OBI offers, and companies already in OBI wanting to expand, the need is urgent.
Mentoring is a key component of incubator services. It allows us to utilize specialists in finance, accounting, law and marketing to assist bioscience start-ups with their growth trajectories. As priorities for our capital fundraising campaign, to be announced very soon, mentoring will sit side by side with bricks and mortar in our quest to give our early stage companies the best chance for success.
Truly knowledge is power when it comes to starting up and managing a successful company. The OBI strives to do all it can to nurture and develop these new bioscience enterprises; not just those housed in our building, but others throughout the state of Oregon, as they take that long, challenging-but-exciting journey to commercial success.